Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Scholastic Fest: #6, The Phantom Brakeman and Other Railroad Stories


  • Title: The Phantom Brakeman and Other Railroad Stories
  • Author: Freeman Hubbard (1894-1981)
  • Illustrator: Jerry Robinson (1922-2011)
  • Publisher: Scholastic Book Services
  • Year: Ninth printing, April 1973
  • Excerpt:
    "The midnight train ground to a stop. Sparks flew from the wheels where the brake shoes clamped against them. The engineer, a big man, swung down from his cab and strode over to the station agent. He didn't like to be stopped at a small village like this.

    "'What's up?' he demanded.

    "'Honey Creek bridge is washed out!' said the agent 'That girl saved your train. She brought me the news. How she got here, I don't know.'

    "The engineer couldn't find anything to say."
  • Notes: This groovy 91-page Scholastic paperback is an abridgement of Hubbard's 1952 book titled The Train That Never Came Back, and Other Railroad Stories, which was published by Whittlesey House. ... The tales in this Scholastic version are:
    • The Phantom Brakeman
    • The Train That Never Came Back
    • The Broken Lantern
    • Casey Jones and the Cannonball Express
    • Signal-Tower Decision
    • A Depot Rescue
    According to the back cover, "each one of these incredible adventures really happened!" That's certainly true with the Casey Jones tale and "The Broken Lantern," which is excerpted above and relates the heroic story of Kate Shelley. ... Author Freeman Henry Hubbard wrote a great deal about railroad history and legends during his lifetime. He was, for many years, editor of of Railroad Magazine, and his other books included Great Trains of All Time and The Roundhouse Cat and Other Railroad Animals. Here are some additional (and unconfirmed) tidbits about Hubbard gleaned from a 2004 discussion on the Railway Preservation News message board:
    • "Hubbard also was a kind of benefactor in his own right. I remember one issue in which he took personal affront to the fact that Casey Jones grave had no marker, and personally saw that one was provided."
    • "I believe Railroad magazine, toward the end, was mostly a one-man operation, a dying magazine about what was then considered a dying industry. Freeman Hubbard was probably lucky to keep it going as long as he did."
    • "An extensive article on Hubbard by the late Tom Jacklin appeared in 'Railroad History #185' (Autumn 2001). ('RR History' is the twice-a-year journal of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society.)"
    ... Meanwhile, changing gears, there is marvelous website, www.jerryrobinsonart.com, devoted to the life and works of Jerry Robinson, who illustrated this Scholastic volume. His work included book illustrations, comic books, photography and much more. He was once the president and editorial director of CartoonArts International and Cartoonists & Writers Syndicate. ... Some of the other Scholastic titles that he illustrated include Hurricane Luck and True Classroom Flubs & Fluffs. You can see a selection of his other titles here. (I particularly like 1962's Let's Go Logging.) ...

    Most importantly, however, (and my daughter Sarah will love this), Jerry Robinson was a co-creator — and perhaps the primary creator — of the Joker, of Batman fame. ... Wikipedia has an in-depth look at the super-villain's creation that begins with this sentence: "Jerry Robinson, Bill Finger and Bob Kane are credited with creating the Joker, but each man had their own version of the character's conception and their role in it." It's interesting reading and a good launching pad, I'm sure, for reading more about Batman's fascinating history. ... But while the Joker is a lasting part of our popular culture, another important historical contribution Robinson made was authoring The Comics: An Illustrated History of Comic Strip Art, which was first published in 1974.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

American Autumn (a photo essay)

If I may indulge myself, here's a collection of photographs I took during an autumn drive through southcentral Pennsylvania on October 9.

DECORATED DOORWAY, EAST BERLIN

PUMPKINS FOR SALE, WEST BROOK FARM MARKET,
INTERSECTION OF ROUTES 234 and 94


DILAPIDATED PROPERTY, ASPERS

A ROAD LESS TRAVELED,
SOUTH OF ROUTE 234 BETWEEN ARENDTSVILLE AND ROUTE 30


MR. ED'S ELEPHANT MUSEUM, ORRTANNA

BASEBALL FIELD, BLUE RIDGE SUMMIT

SCENE FROM WINDOW, "COOL OLD STUFF" ANTIQUE STORE,
SOUTHEAST OF WAYNESBORO


SCENE FROM WINDOW #2, "COOL OLD STUFF"

HAY IN FIELD, ACROSS FROM LOWER MARSH CREEK PRESBYTERIAN CEMETERY,
WEST OF GETTYSBURG


HAY IN FIELD, ALTERNATE

***
BONUS PHOTO
SARAH IN THE CORN MAZE AT FLINCHBAUGH'S ORCHARD & FARM MARKET,
HELLAM TOWNSHIP (OCTOBER 8, 2014)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Vintage postcard: Wonderful place relax and read and book


This place looks inviting, doesn't it?

The undated old postcard (carte postale, actually) shows a view of a historic hotel in Dives-sur-Mer, a tiny commune with a population of about 6,000 in northwestern France. The ongoing claim to fame of area is that William the Conqueror (1028-1087) used its harbor to depart for the Norman conquest of England in 1066. (The conquest is depicted on the Bayeux Tapestry.)

Tourism is important for Dives-sur-Mer, though it's probably not a top destination for sight-seers in the Normandy region of France. It's more of an out-of-the-way stop. According to France This Way:
"Within Dives-sur-Mer the most interesting part for visitors is the sector called the 'Village of William the Conqueror', now a magnet for artists and artisans and with picturesque and often ornately decorated medieval half-timbered houses — or 19th century recreations of medieval style houses in some cases, when much of the centre was created, around the original 'auberge of the Royal Sword'

The 14th century market hall is the other main notable monument, still used for the Saturday market and with incredible carpentry work in the roof.Also on the market square you can see the 17th century Maison de Bois Hibout, a substantial stone manor house on five levels."
The credit on the back of this postcard states: "IMP.-PHOT. A. THIRIAT & cie, TOULOUSE".

Scholastic Fest: #7, A Chimp in the Family


  • Title: A Chimp in the Family
  • Author: Charlotte Becker (1907-1984)
  • Illustrator: Seymour Fleishman (1918-2012)
  • Publisher: Scholastic Book Services
  • Year: Eighth printing, September 1968
  • Excerpt:
    "Mr. Davis was walking up and down his pet store with a baby chimpanzee in his arms. He was trying to figure out what to do with the little ape.

    "That morning a sailor had sold Maggie to him. She came from the warm forests of faraway Africa. Sooner or later a circus or zoo or someone who liked unusual pets would buy Maggie. But, until then, the store was no place for her."1
  • Notes: And now for some monkey business. ... Charlotte Becker was a tough nut to crack when it came to Internet sleuthing. It turns out, as far as I can figure, that she was more well known as an artist and illustrator than as an author. According to ArtPrice.com, she was born in 1907 in Dresden, Germany. At some point she married and became Charlotte Becker Cox. She "painted over a thousand magazine covers, art calendars and art prints, all of children." ... A Chimp in the Family was first published in 1953 by Julian Messner Inc. and, according to ArtPrice.com, Becker did her own illustrations for that first edition. ... The illustrator of this Scholastic edition, Seymour Fleishman, was well-remembered in his 2012 obituary in the Chicago Sun-Times, written by Maureen O'Donnell, whose lede states: "Seymour Fleishman’s books beckoned children to come inside and stay a while." Fleishman was a U.S. Army veteran, a newspaper and magazine artist, and the artist for about 80 children's books, the most famous of which might be Gus Was A Friendly Ghost. Fleishman had a parakeet named Piccolo in his studio. ... Finally, this edition of A Chimp in the Family comes with an inscription from one of its former owners, Linda Kay Linthurst, who wrote the following in careful, grade-school cursive: "I read it and it was very good about Peg, Tom, and Maggie."


Footnote
1. I hope current and future generations find the concepts of kidnapping and selling animals and sending them off to "life" in circuses and zoos as horrible as I do. Upon further review, I should not have ranked this book as highly as I did.